Music Man, Jr. Soars

Molly Cahill '16

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Montrose’s third annual middle school musical, The Music Man Jr. went up in the M&M building on November 22 and 23. This production, a tradition begun by Mrs. Holly Sullivan a few years ago, gives Montrose’s younger students an opportunity to headline a fully staged musical all their own, separate from the upper school. The Music Man, written by Meredith Wilson in 1957, is a huge undertaking for any theatre group, let alone a cast of 6th to 8th grade girls. Dynamic male and female roles, a fast-paced and complex plot, and classic musical number after classic musical number make the show the classic that it is.

The show began with a fast-moving, rhythmically challenging a cappella number that could almost be likened to a rap, musical theatre style of course. Abby McAvoy ’19, Mariana Avila ’18, Weslee Zinsner ’20, Courtney Acardi ’20, Emma Dunnington ’19, and Nora Cahill ’19 caught the audience’s attention right off the bat with their energy and animation as traveling salesmen discussing their business and one salesman in particular, Harold Hill.

Unbeknownst to them, Harold sits with them on the train before he gets off in River City, Iowa. A con man, Harold convinces the citizens of River City that to save their children from danger and corruption, he must let him lead them in a boys’ band. He never mentions that he can’t play a note for his life. Eileen Brennan ’18 tackled the challenging role of Harold with enthusiasm and sincerity that helped her successfully carry the show on her shoulders. She sang with confidence and poise in difficult numbers like “Trouble” and “Seventy-Six Trombones,” and she managed to convince us that under his swindling facade, Harold has a quick mind and a big heart.

Before he can sing his way into the hearts of River City, though, he has to jump hurdles, the biggest in the person of Marian Paroo, River City’s librarian and music teacher. Nora Clancy ’18 made Marian smart and independent and sang famous songs like “Goodnight, My Someone” and “Till There Was You.” She especially shined in Marian’s change of heart, as she initially despised Harold but later grew to love him. Mariana Avila ’18 was a bumbling and commanding Mayor Shinn, suspicious of Harold and his antics from the start. Alex Ryder ’18 got some of the biggest laughs of the night as Eulalie McKecknie Shinn, the Mayor’s wife. She made Mrs. Shinn bold and brash and led the townswomen in the hilarious and insanely catchy number, “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little.”

Annie Miklus ’18 was a funny and earnest Marcellus Washburn, friend and accomplice to Harold. She danced and sang up a storm in an audience favorite, “Shipoopi.” Jaycie Zinsner ’18 played Marian’s protective and somewhat gullible mother, and she sang with Nora in a funny mother-daughter duet. The two of them also sang with one of the show’s scene-stealers, Katie Hogan ’20 as Marian’s lisping little brother Winthrop, in “Gary, Indiana.” Katie completely captured the audience’s heart as she proved that a big voice and even bigger personality can come in a tiny package. Though she only appeared toward the end of the show, Abby McAvoy ’19 was poised and memorable as Charlie Cowell, a traveling salesmen passing through who wants to expose Harold for his dishonesty.

Abby delivered her lines with conviction and owned the stage with presence and confidence. In the end, Marian helps Harold to see the error of his ways, and he delivers in his promise of a boys’ band to the townspeople, even if it isn’t in the way they expected. The entire cast performed with energy and excitement, and they let the audience share in the fun they were having on stage.

The production team’s hard work was evident in all aspects of the show. Stage Manager Nora Sullivan ’16 performed and directed seamless set changes in a space like the M&M which can sometimes be challenging. Assistant Director Ms. Cusack and Director Mrs. Sullivan rehearsed the girls to perfection on their lines, moves, and music. Mrs. Sullivan also provided piano accompaniment for all of the musical numbers. Thanks to their hard work and the efforts of the girls onstage, The Music Man, Jr. was well received by audiences of all ages! Kudos to the cast and crew on a fun and entertaining production.